Wonderland

Onge's Review

Erasure's debut album Wonderland failed miserably to set the charts on fire. The three UK singles completely flopped and at the time it must have been very disheartening for Vince after his successes previously with Depeche Mode, Yazoo and The Assembly. Yet this album is still a gem and is full of some marvellous song writing. Although this album sounds somewhat dated now, the old-time synth sound has a certain charm that merely adds to the enjoyment of this album. The excellent Who Needs Love (Like That) starts it all. Solely written by Vince, this is a very enjoyable song and it puzzles me to this day why this song failed to capture the public's imagination back in 1985 when it was first released. As with much of the album, this track is a fine catchy pop treat. Reunion is another contagious number, extremely upbeat and dancey in which lyrically tells the story of being reunited with a lover after a long, troublesome period apart. By no means ground-breaking, but still a very good pop song. Cry So Easy also has that early 1980s synth-pop sound. This song, the only song in the Erasure back catalogue which credits Andy as the sole song-writer, is pleasant enough but it doesn't really stand out particularly. It is a little confused lyrically but we must remember Andy was still finding his feet in the industry when this was written.

The duo's full debut was a sparkling collection of synth-pop tunes that made up in enthusiasm and immediate catchiness what it lacked in overall variety or any sense of artistic progression from Clarke's past. Though the production, one of Flood's earliest high-profile efforts, is detailed and often lush, anyone who had followed Clarke's career wouldn't be surprised by anything on Wonderland.

AllMusic Guide

Push Me Shove Me is a little farcical, and isn't a song you can take too seriously. But it is fun, and Vince's extended musical contribution still makes this an agreeable song. What I never understood about this track is how the CD version has such an abrupt ending when the cassette album version of this song fades out. A minor point, but I've never liked the way the song suddenly stops on the CD album version. Heavenly Action is regarded by many as being one of Erasure's weaker songs, and was definitely a poor choice for a single. It didn't sell either, reaching a lowly position of 100 in the UK charts. It lacks the appeal of many of the other album's track, and isn't particularly strong in any department, but despite all that it still annoyingly catchy! Say What is another enjoyable track. The Stomp Crew assist with backing vocals as Andy's lyrics berates a lover in this pleasing song. Again it is not a track of particular outstanding merit but is another likeable pop song.

Love Is A Loser is a wonderfully upbeat song, despite the connotations of the song's title. A fairground style melody and infectious lyrics make for yet another exuberant Erasure sing-a-long. Even at this early stage in their careers, it was clear Erasure were very capable song writers. Senseless is an amazing song, particularly through Vince's arrangement. A wonderfully momentous chorus melody produced to perfection by Flood makes for a real aural experience. The lyrics and the inclusion of a third verse (rarely done by Erasure) really do give your ears a treat, with Andy singing finely throughout. An early Erasure classic. My Heart... So Blue is a downcast ballad where Andy (or Vince, for it was he who wrote the song) rues the loss of his lover. Unspectacular throughout, I can't help feeling this was a prototype for the far superior and incomparable Spiralling. This ballad does give the album a more soothing section though, giving Wonderland as a whole a more balanced feel.

Fans' Best/Worst Of

Top 3 Songs
  1. Oh L'amour
  2. Love Is A Loser
  3. Reunion
Bottom 2 Songs
  1. Pistol
  2. Say What
Results taken from Poll 2008-09

Oh L'amour follows, a song of such genius it is a crime this song only reached number 85 in the UK singles charts. Everything about this song is wonderful; from Vince's musical accompaniment to Andy's wonderful lyrics and voice. A sensational classic, it is rightfully popular amongst the fans. Pistol is a weak and extremely camp track that was excluded from many non-UK versions of Wonderland. Amusing but little else, this track is by far the weakest on the album. UK CD versions conclude with additional remixes and an extended version of Oh L'amour b-side March On Down The Line which is a chirpy but unexceptional little tune.

The American version of this album is noticeably different, with Push Me Shove Me and Pistol being omitted and with March On Down The Line being present on all album formats. The mix of Oh L'amour is also substantially different – this is the original mix of the track and is a bit tinny and lightweight compared to the version found on the UK version of the album. The bonus tracks/remixes are different too – if you want the full Wonderland experience you really should own both the UK and US versions.

For the album's 25th anniversary in 2011, Wonderland was re-released as a remastered 2xCD and DVD box set. As with most remastered content, unless you have an ear for this sort of thing, or play the original and new versions back-to-back, it's unlikely you'd notice any difference in the audio but to my ear the tracks do sound crisper. The second CD is home to a collection of fairly drab b-sides and remixes, many of which haven't really aged all that well. The charming BBC Radio 1 sessions that conclude the disc are excellent though with the songs feeling like pre-produced versions of their album counterparts. The live DVD recorded in Stockholm is a welcome addition, having been previously unreleased. The overall box set package is very good, although not quite as nice as the remastered 21st anniversary edition of The Innocents.

Summary

As a debut album goes, this is no bad effort. The songs are largely extremely enjoyable and catchy, demonstrating Erasure's ability to write terrific pop songs. The dated sound of the synthesizers does not detract in any way from this album, particularly as this was Vince's most weighty use of the instrument in his career at the time. What followed next was a more defined sound that has lasted the test of time far better – and also kick-started their careers.

Fan Reviews

Below are some fan reviews written by visitors to this very site. Once you've read these, please feel free to use the form at the end of the page to write your own review.

  1. Thee beginning. What was this, Yazoo in tights? The sound was similar, yet the songs were different somehow…raw and heavenly. Bubblegum sexuality for the electronic-groove club crowd. A rumbling began with this one, deep in the earth…

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by Mig, Santa Cruz, CA
    1 January 2006 2:38 pm (GMT)
  2. From the opening bars of Who Needs Love to the awesome March On Down The Line this album is one of Erasure strongest, even it is their weakest commercially. The album contains the soaring Oh L’amour, the fun Love Is A Loser and the stompin’ Say What!

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Steven Tattum, North Wales, UK
    2 January 2006 2:23 am (GMT)
  3. Buy this! First Erasure album I ever heard. It’s especially good if you were into that early depeche mode/yazoo scene.

    8 out of 10
    Reviewed by Mark, Stratford
    10 January 2006 10:38 am (GMT)
  4. I never was a big fan of the first album from Erasure. I just like it with some enthusiasm, but it really doesn’t send shivers up and down my spine… There are few tracks on it that I adore and they are the following ones: Who Needs Love (Like That), whose lyrics express very well the way how love can change our spirits on confusing our thoughts and convictions and I love specially its Mexican rhythm ; Senseless, an instantaneous synthpop classic created by Vince & Andy that gave a great show of what they are able to do when their minds are in perfect syntony (and many, many other excellent songs were still to come in the next years!) ; Oh L’Amour, one of the most brilliant songs composed by them which owns also one of their most catchy refrains ; Cry So Easy, a great ballad that would deserve so much more attention than My Heart… So Blue at my opinion ; Push Me Shove Me, I simply A-D-O-R-E everything about this one and it’s my fave track from Wonderland by far ; and March On Down The Line, a very captivating song with irresistible rhythm, melody and lyrics, despite I’m not sure about what is the point here, but I feel it’s about someone that is tasting the total freedom for being who he/she wants to be for the first time in his/her life. In relation to the other ones from Wonderland, I just enjoy Say What. Reunion, Love Is A Loser and My Heart… So Blue (an overrated ballad, I think) are just OK to me. I think actually these 3 ones sound excessively romantic and for this reason they sound pretty naive to my small ears. Well, I think it’s an album that was purposely recorded for sounding a bit childish indeed and maybe that’s the reason why some of its ones sound pretty sweet in terms of sound and lyrics. And I simply destest Heavenly Action (a poor cousin to There Must Be An Angel from Eurythimcs) and Pistol, whose lyrics try to deal with a social problem but it’s really annoying.

    7 out of 10
    Reviewed by Ocean Soul, Rio de Janeiro
    25 January 2006 10:53 pm (GMT)
  5. Erasure’s debute is not one of their best albums, but it isn’t one of their worst either. After all it contains the marvellous hit single “oh l’amour”, and many other good synth-pop tracks such as: “cry so easy”, “heavenly action” and the partially irritating “who needs love like that” :D

    7 out of 10
    Reviewed by jemuvompo, Finland
    26 January 2006 12:48 pm (GMT)
  6. wonderland for me brings back memories of my younger brother turning up at my flat and saying ” Hey you gotta hear this” I had NO idea who Erasure where,,but on the stength of this album i went along with him to see Erasure live and from that point i was totally hooked. This album at that time,,even though it was in the synth sound era was still very fresh and vibrant. Nowadays it could sound a bit dated to some people,, but if you are a person who loved that era then you can’t go far wrong by buying Wonderland! Right from the opening stomping track “Pistol” to the beautiful ” My heart so blue” this album is a classic in it’s own right.

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by stompydebs, Bristol. UK
    19 February 2006 12:51 pm (GMT)
  7. US Version:
    WHO NEEDS LOVE LIKE THAT [10/10]
    REUNION [10/10]
    CRY SO EASY [9/10]
    SENSELESS [10/10]
    HEAVENLY ACTION [8/10]
    SAY WHAT [8/10]
    LOVE IS A LOSER [9/10]
    MARCH ON DOWN THE LINE [10/10]
    MY HEART SO BLUE [10/10]
    OH L’AMOUR [10/10]
    –UK TRACKS–
    PUSH ME, SHOVE ME [7/10]
    PISTOL [3/10]

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by Michael, Amarillo, TX
    27 July 2007 7:30 am (GMT)
  8. I recntly purchased this album, It isn’t that good! I can see how they’ve thankfully progressed over the years although I can see the makings of genious pop tracks in Love Is A Loser and Oh L’Amour!

    I think it’s too Yazoo/Depeche Mode, Think Andy has been a blessing to mr Clarke bringing him into camp pop brilliance!

    5 out of 10
    Reviewed by Shaun, UK
    16 October 2007 2:45 pm (GMT)
  9. Wonderland was a rare debut. The sounds remind us of Clarke’s past in Depeche Mode and Yazoo and Andy’s voice is similar to Yazoo’s Alison Moyet. Who Needs Love Like That shows the craftiness for making music of Vince adding it a funny video. Another very good track Reunion follows the danceable way of the first one. Then there’s a slow fall: Cry So Easy has just a great chorus, Push Me Shove Me is monotonous although it is extremely catchy, Heavenly Action is just a nice song -with a horrible video- but a very bad option for a second single and Say What –that was very famous in Argentina, my country- a fine tune. Love Is A Loser raises the standard level and Senseless is a bit more of the same. So, two fabulous songs appear: My Heart So Blue which is like a hidden gem with Vince delighting ears in the instrumental parts and Oh L’amour the song where the chemistry between them was born, one of their most important hits –despite his original position in the UK chart-. A weak song like Pistol and the correct March On Down The Line finish the record.
    The remixes are a good addition but just for fans.
    Singles’ extra songs: Don’t Say No: a non-memorable track. Gimme Gimme Gimme: a fantastic cover, several years before Abba-esque.
    Summary: A very decent debut in which we can find some everlasting classics.

    8 out of 10
    Reviewed by Hernán, Buenos Aires-Argentina
    22 July 2008 9:00 pm (GMT)
  10. Who Needs Love Like That? – a strong song and easy to see why it is a live favourite. Doesn’t sound like anything else around in 1985. Reunion – upbeat and enjoyable. Cry So Easy – a warning against picking a partner who is attractive, young but naive. Push Me Shove Me – would have been a classic Yazoo track, with Alison Moyet belting out the moody lyrics in her powerful style. Heavenly Action – charmingly naive. Say What/Love Is A Loser/Senseless – three different ways of adding words and musical twiddles to a backbeat in old-school synth fashion. The middle one of the three is great for singing along in the car. My Heart… So Blue – soulful ballad, well sung. Oh L’Amour – a perfect pop song, with Dollar proving it was only Erasure’s lack of a reputation at the time which prevented it being a hit. Pistol – an unnecessary 11th track.

    7 out of 10
    Reviewed by Paul, UK
    1 August 2011 3:29 pm (GMT)
  11. It’s a good album, not a masterpiece but ok. “Senseless” and “Oh L’Amour” are my favorites, but also “Reunion”,”Cry So Easy” and “March On Down The Line” sound good to me. “Who Needs Love Like That”and “Love Is A Loser” are funny but unexceptional. The rest it’s simply nothing special or even bad like “Pistol”. In conclusion it’s not their best work but it contains some beautiful gems.

    6 out of 10
    Reviewed by Christian-Genoa,Italy
    5 May 2013 1:52 pm (GMT)
  12. ok its their debut album, but its not overwhelmingly good,

    OH LAMOUR is the lone hit on this album

    other songs like PISTOL or WHO NEEDS LOVE LIKE THAT are ok and enjoyable for gay parties but not more

    5 out of 10
    Reviewed by Christianz Germany
    14 November 2013 9:51 pm (GMT)
  13. I was dissapointed with this album after the Yazoo’s experience, really simple sounds, i don’t know what happened with Mr Clarke magic synth touch.

    However there are some good track like “push me shove me” or “my heart so blue”. Other tracks like ·who need love..” or “pistol” are funny but far of their best moments.
    Fortunatelly they will be progress a lot in the future.

    4 out of 10
    Reviewed by Pedro San Sebastian (Spain)
    16 November 2013 7:05 pm (GMT)
  14. I just love it, I bought ‘The Circus’ first then realized they did a record prior, still remember to this day listening to Wonderland on a rainy day, the glumness of the weather was took away when I got to the second track ‘Reunion’. There are a couple of dodgy tracks but this record to me is better than people rate it, listen to it again I ay, there’s more to this record than you think!

    10 out of 10
    Reviewed by steve
    21 February 2014 2:57 pm (GMT)
  15. This album is amazing for a first-time release for Erasure. We shouldn’t have expected their debut album to necessarily set the charts alight because not many people had heard of Erasure (at that stage).
    Despite some opinions, ‘Heavenly Action’ is an uplifting track which should have faired better in the charts. ‘Who needs love like that’ and ‘Cry so Easy’ are also stand out songs.
    ‘Oh L’Amour’ is an absolutely sublime track, and, personally I believe ‘My heart…so blue’ also deserves a little respect. Such a great ballad.

    Overall, a fantastic compilation which everybody should have in their collection.

    9 out of 10
    Reviewed by Brendan, Surrey
    24 August 2014 6:51 pm (GMT)
  16. This is a very enjoyable album, for sure, but when, place alongside the innocents, Chorus or The circus you do kinda feal in hindsight, Oh Lamour aside, that erasure were on the precepice of launching themselves headlong into a string of masterful albums that Wonderland certainly signposted.
    Oh Lamour is the masterpiece here along with Heart So blue and Who needs love like that. Still, it has to be said that better albums lay ahead, but a very promising and enjoyable beginning.

    7 out of 10
    Reviewed by pmrelliott dublin
    2 March 2015 4:02 pm (GMT)
  17. Some good songs and nothing else. A good beggining but far from their best!

    6 out of 10
    Reviewed by BRossete Joinville, Brasil
    12 March 2016 11:32 pm (GMT)
  18. Thirty years after its release I still find this album refreshing. It never grows old.
    I don’t understand why this album didn’t grab the public and music industry right when it came out.

    WHO NEEDS LOVE LIKE THAT [9/10]
    REUNION [7/10]
    CRY SO EASY [7/10]
    SENSELESS [8/10]
    HEAVENLY ACTION [8/10]
    SAY WHAT [4/10]
    LOVE IS A LOSER [6/10]
    MARCH ON DOWN THE LINE [7/10]
    MY HEART SO BLUE [8/10]
    OH L’AMOUR [10/10]
    –UK TRACKS–
    PUSH ME, SHOVE ME [6/10]
    PISTOL [7/10]

    7 out of 10
    Reviewed by Jonathan Andrews – Florida, USA
    14 March 2016 3:31 pm (GMT)

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